Horse death from mystery “attack” in Michigan

The horse was bitten on a lower part of its leg, apparently causing it to bleed out, sheriff’s office Sgt. Darrin Siemen said.

Source: Horse attacked by large animal in Sanilac County

A 1,200 pound adult horse is dead, and the “large” animal that bit and killed it hasn’t been identified, causing the Sanilac County Sheriff’s Office to issue a warning Monday on Facebook.

The horse was fatally wounded at about noon Sunday at its pasture in a rural area about 80 miles northeast of metro Detroit.

An investigation did not find any clues to what really happened. There were no obstacles found in the pasture and apparently no tracks. It is speculated that the animal attack could have been from a coyote. How the attacker avoided injury by a hoof blow is a real mystery. Attacking equine lower legs is not a good predator strategy – their legs are serious weapons uses to capably defend itself. There was no mention of finding wire or other objects that might do serious tissue damage but an animal attack is not confirmed until more testing is done. It appeared to happen very quickly as the owners heard the horse make noise.

As in an earlier story today, the main route of public distribution for this story is Facebook allowing for rampant, ridiculous and unhelpful speculation as well as promoting fear.

The owner’s daughter, Natoshia Lunney, posted to the sheriff’s page saying that the horse, Bo, was not eaten. His leg was severed so their main concern was rushing him to an equine hospital for surgery. A state biologist will investigate. It is not suspected that a cougar was responsible since there are no known populations here. A large cat does not attack the feet. Unhelpful and insensitive jokers on the FB thread suggested Bigfoot, dogman, chupacabras or a “manbearpig” were responsible. This is why public FB turns into a public nuisance. But mystery mongering sites, like Mysterious Universe, suggest with some seriousness that it was a Bigfoot attack due to the prevalence of sightings in Michigan. I guess Bigfoot knocked it down and bit into the leg? Yep, a Bigfoot is too smart to be caught but will put its face next to a deadly weapon that can kick its face in. Sounds reasonable.

We will try to follow for updates.

Addition: One vet does say it looks like a dog or a fence was the cause. But many sites still are promoting the story as people should be aware of a “large” animal that could attack.

UPDATE (5-June 2015) A few clarifications – the horse was put down, it did not die of blood loss as suggested in the article. The injury was too extensive to repair. I have not found a source that said which leg (front or hind) that was bitten. I’m having a difficult time imagining a hind leg mauled by a dog without the dog ending up dead. It would be strange for a stray dog to attack a horse but we don’t have a video so we won’t know.

  11 comments for “Horse death from mystery “attack” in Michigan

  1. Ronald H. Pine
    June 4, 2015 at 7:52 PM

    If the damage was by done by an animal and not inflicted in some other way, then I would think that a dog would be a possible candidate.

  2. June 5, 2015 at 8:09 AM

    Most likely candidates: dog(s) or Humans being dicks.

    As far as the Facebook being a nuisance, the only person I saw post this, was clearly joking. Saying “I will not go up north anymore, B I G F O O T lurks there” clearly a joke. Only Footers themselves would actually think this is a Bigfoot attack.

  3. June 5, 2015 at 8:51 AM

    It’s on Mysterious Universe this way.

  4. Drewbot
    June 5, 2015 at 11:42 AM

    Google Dog attacks horse and flip through the images till you find leg injuries.

    This is an article as well detailing an attack where the pitbull ripped the leg muscle off of the horse
    http://www.gilroydispatch.com/news/community/horse-euthanized-after-brutal-attack-by-pit-bulls/article_5d43e376-b9b3-11e1-8edb-001a4bcf6878.html

  5. June 5, 2015 at 12:34 PM

    I’ll spare myself the imagery, too gruesome and sad. But this is good to know that is seems to be not uncommon.

  6. Eric
    June 5, 2015 at 1:35 PM

    I thought Gore had killed MBP? Is this menace to humanity back?

  7. One Eyed Jack
    June 6, 2015 at 4:40 AM

    Growing up on a horse farm, I can assure you that dogs do attack horses (sort of). Typically, it’s nipping at their heal, barking, and chasing. It’s generally a form of play, not a real attack. I’ve never seen one actually latch hold and bite one hard enough to do real damage.

    However, a horse getting caught in a fence is not unusual. Wire fencing is very common due to its relative low cost. Even a farm that uses another type of fencing can have old wire fencing buried, partially exposed, or forgotten in a bramble. When a horse gets caught, it will panic, kicking to free itself without thought to injury. As they kick and jerk, the wire cuts deeper until it breaks or the horse tires from the struggle.

    I’ve nursed horses back to health after fence injuries. The cuts are deep and frequently go to the bone, but I’ve never had to put one down. I know of other owners that had to euthanize due to fence injuries.

    With no witnesses to the attack, I would put a fence as a high probability. I wouldn’t rule out dog attack, but I would expect a dog attack to have multiple points of attack, not just one leg. However, a single leg getting caught in a fence makes perfect sense.

  8. Rand
    June 6, 2015 at 2:09 PM

    When I was young, we had horses. It’s typical to use barbed wire fences for livestock, usually 3 wires, the top of which is generally at around 5 feet high. We actually had one horse who appearently was jumping the fence. Twice I had to cut the fence to free the horse. One time had appearently jumped out sucessfully, then failed to clear it when returning, so he had landed back on the fence around his midsection, but escaped with only minor cuts. The second time, he had only one back leg stuck over the fence, and unfortunatly, by the time I found him, he had “sawed” his back leg down to the bone. He had to be put down after a few days, as it was too deep to heal.

    It was typcial for horses to stick their heads through the fence to get at the grass on the other side. They would also commonly use a trick of stepping on a wire to push it down to give them room to reach though farther, so it’s possible the horse in the article could have got it’s front leg cut up, as well as the back.

    Dogs, on the other hand… Horses know how to deal with dogs. A dog is genreally not much of a threat to a horse, but the dog is in mortal danger from the horse, they can pack a powerful kick when annoyed. Many times while riding down the road, my horse would send a nipping dog squealing back to it’s yard with a kick. They call it “the business end” of a horse for a reason.

    So, (lacking any other clear evidence), I’d suspect the horse got hung up on a fence for a while, and later managed to free itself, but too late….

  9. Christine Rose
    June 6, 2015 at 7:26 PM

    The first thing I thought of was rabies. Rabid raccoons will attack people, who usually manage to throttle the raccoon to death. I don’t really know enough about raccoons, dogs, and horses to judge whether a rabid dog or raccoon could have done this without getting kicked to death. I also can’t say whether the horse would have become rabid and if they could have known that.

  10. Erik1986
    June 9, 2015 at 4:58 PM

    Or dogs running a horse through/into a fence. My horse is 100% sound, but he has scars on his left pastern and left rear cannon (nasty looking, but fortunately superficial) from dogs chasing him through a fence at his breeder’s farm. Not barbed wire – actually no-climb fence with a top rail, but he was a big yearling and smashed into it and managed to get tangled. So…dogs responsible, even if not by biting.

  11. Erik1986
    June 9, 2015 at 5:02 PM

    Don’t know how common it is for other areas, but where I board my horse (Northern California – near a state park), most people vaccinate yearly for rabies, especially if they trail ride a lot. My old horse, since passed on, went outside from his stall into his paddock when aggressive (unrabid) raccoons decided they wanted some of his feed – he didn’t particularly want to mess with them. Kinda funny – 1,100 lb. animal deferring to a 40 lb. one, but, y’know, predator/prey, even if raccoons are generally not a threat to horses.

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